Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

10 Healthy Reasons to Eat Yogurt

Food

Yogurt has always had a reputation as a dietary superstar. It's been widely accepted as a healthy choice for breakfast or a snack. The fact that it's a grab-and-go food that needs no preparation has undoubtedly boosted its popularity at a time when many people are too busy or time-challenged to fix a morning meal. We've all seen the images of the svelte young woman in workout clothes, spooning up her yogurt as she dashes from the gym to the office.

Yogurt really is good for you, but watch out for what's been added to it.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Much of the hype is true. Yogurt is a probiotic, another of those trendy words in today's food conversations. Probiotics are live bacteria cultures, so-called "good bacteria." They're typically found in many dairy products, including aged cheeses like Parmesan and cheddar, fermented products like sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kombucha tea, Japanese miso and Korean kimchi.

The main benefit claimed for probiotics is that they help regulate the digestive system, calm a queasy stomach, reduce bloating and regularize bowel function. They may be useful in treating some forms of diarrhea. Most of the other claims for their disease-treating value are a little shakier. Probiotics have been credited with reducing cholesterol and inflammation, lowering blood pressure, boosting the immune system and fighting infection, staving off vaginal infections, preventing osteoporosis and even addressing some skin conditions. But much research remains to be done in those areas and it's unlikely that a probiotic supplement will be of much benefit.

Eating yogurt itself is a different matter. It's undeniably high in calcium, which is essential for strong bones, and it contains a host of other nutrients and minerals, including B vitamins, potassium, phosphorus, iodine and zinc. Many brands add vitamin D to help absorb the calcium, a good thing. Yogurt can also be high in protein, depending on the type you buy. Greek yogurt is particularly protein-rich.

With all the touted benefits, the number of yogurts in the dairy case has proliferated, leading to a confusing array of choices—sometimes hundreds of them. Like milk, it comes in whole-milk, low-fat and non-fat versions, since yogurt is nothing  more than milk with bacterial cultures introduced to ferment it. Each can have its benefits depending on what your requirements are. But some of the choices can quickly turn a healthy food into something not much better than a junk food.

Plain yogurt is pretty, well, plain, and some may not like its sour taste. In an effort to broaden its appeal, many companies have taken to supplementing it with added ingredients, mixing it with various fruits and other flavors such as vanilla and maple. That's not necessarily bad in itself. But many yogurts also contain loads of added sweeteners, including that big food no-no, high-fructose corn syrup. Read the label and make sure yours doesn't. If sugar is the first ingredient listed, put it back. And while that yogurt with chocolate chip cookie pieces might induce your child to try some, it's probably not the best choice for an after-school snack.

A good way to avoid added ingredients that dilute yogurt's benefits is to make your own flavored yogurt. That's really not that much more complicated than popping the top off the cup. Start with the safest choice, plain organic yogurt, and toss in a handful of berries, orange sections, banana slices or nuts, spices like cinnamon or nutmeg, or seeds like chia, hemp and flax that add texture and fiber, or granola. All of those bring their own healthy compounds, adding more nutritional punch to that quick-and-easy yogurt meal.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

4 Things You Should Know About Probiotics

10 Best Ingredients to Include in Your Superfood Smoothies

5 Great Ways to Include Hemp Seeds in Your Daily Diet

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as the first to effectively kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces, based on laboratory testing. Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a list of 431 products that are effective at killing viruses when they are on surfaces. Now, a good year for Lysol manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser just got better when the EPA said that two Lysol products are among the products that can kill the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unveils the Green New Deal resolution in front of the U.S. Capitol on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Judith Lewis Mernit

For all its posturing on climate change, the Democratic Party has long been weak on the actual policies we need to save us from extinction. President Barack Obama promised his presidency would mark "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow," and then embraced natural gas, a major driver of global temperature rise, as a "bridge fuel." Climate legislation passed in the House in 2009 would have allowed industries to buy credits to pollute, a practice known to concentrate toxic air in black and brown neighborhoods while doing little to cut emissions.

Read More Show Less
About 30,000 claims contending that Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are currently unsettled. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Bayer's $10 billion settlement to put an end to roughly 125,000 lawsuits against its popular weed killer Roundup, which contains glyphosate, hit a snag this week when a federal judge in San Francisco expressed skepticism over what rights future plaintiffs would have, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Read More Show Less
Hundreds of sudden elephant deaths in Botswana aren't just a loss for the ecosystem and global conservation efforts. Mario Micklisch / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Charli Shield

When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.

Read More Show Less
Trump sits during a meeting about safely reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic on July 7, 2020, in Washington, DC. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration began the formal process of withdrawing from the World Health Organization (WHO), a White House official said Tuesday, even as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the country.

Read More Show Less
Refrigerated trucks function as temporary morgues at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal on May 06, 2020 in New York City. As of July, the states where COVID-19 cases are rising are mostly in the West and South. Justin Heiman / Getty Images

The official number of people in the U.S. who have lost their lives to the new coronavirus has now passed 130,000, according to tallies from The New York Times, Reuters and Johns Hopkins University.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A man walks on pink snow at the Presena glacier near Pellizzano, Italy on July 4, 2020. MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP via Getty Images

In a troubling sign for the future of the Italian Alps, the snow and ice in a glacier is turning pink due to the growth of snow-melting algae, according to scientists studying the pink ice phenomenon, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less